Let’s Ring Doorbells (1935)

Let’s Ring Doorbells (1935)
Article 6058 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 6-8-2022
Directed by Arthur Davis and Sid Marcus
Voice cast unknown
Country: USA
What it is: Another forgotten Columbia cartoon

Scrappy and his baby brother get bored and decide to entertain themselves by going around ringing other people’s doorbells.

As might be expected from a setup like this, Scrappy and his brother have a lesson to learn, so they end up in a spooky with a ghostly old man who tells them they can’t leave the house until they press the right doorbell. This sequence is like a mild version of BIMBO’S INITIATION, but it still makes it as one of the better Scrappy cartoons out there. Many of the doors turn out to be booby traps, as you might expect. I wish there were a few more laughs, but it’s one of the higher points in Columbia’s cartoon catalog.


Laser Mission (1989)

Laser Mission (1989)
Article 6033 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 12-12-2021
Directed by B. J. Davis
Featuring Brandon Lee, Debi A. Monahan, Ernest Borgnine
Country: West Germany, South Africa and USA
What it is: Action

A freelance spy is hired by the United States to find a kidnapped expert on laser technology. This leads to a lot of chase scenes and explosions.

This movie appears in a couple of collections that purport to be of science fiction movies, and the title certainly makes it sound like it belongs to the genre, but upon closer examination, there’s little more here than vague hints of Gizmo McGuffinry. I almost skipped reviewing this one altogether, but it’s been a while since my last one, and warning people of lack of genre content is an acceptable excuse. Brandon Lee was Bruce Lee’s son and like him, died at an early age. I’ve not seen any of his movies before, but if this is representative of his work, I haven’t missed much. I’m tempted to say that its sense of humor is the movie’s saving grace, but that’s wishful thinking. It’s an hour and a half of time-killer for the uncritical action fan.

Little Lambkin (1940)

Little Lambkin (1940)
Article 6012 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-1-2021
Directed by Dave Fleischer and Dave Tendlar
Featuring the voices of Margie Hines and Jack Mercer
Country: USA
What it is: Cartoon whimsy

A toddler is torn from his animal friends in the country to move into a modern home in the city with his parents. Can he make his parents go back to the country?

This one is a bit marginal, as the main fantastic content (the modern appliances in the futuristic home) is used in just a short sequence in the middle. At least that part is played for comedy; the main story about the toddler and the animals is played for whimsy. Still, I do have a fondness for cartoons about gadget-filled houses of the future; there are some very good ones out there. This is one of the lesser examples of the genre.

The Little Lamb: A Christmas Story (1955)

The Little Lamb: A Christmas Story (1955)
Date: 9-11-2021
Director unknown
Featuring Morris Ankrum, Maureen O’Sullivan
Country: USA
What it is: Live action Christmas story on a cartoon set

The shepherds’ search for a lost lamb leads to an encounter with an angel and then with the Christ child himself.

I featured my tirade on non-cartoons appearing on cartoon sets in my last review, so we’ll skip that and cut to the chase here. This cartoon bears a little similarity to another Christmas short on the same set, namely THE LITTLE CHRISTMAS BURRO. I didn’t review that short for the simple reason that outside of the talking animals (no longer in itself sufficient criteria for me to review a cartoon), nothing really fantastic happens; there are no miracles or angelic visitations during the sequence with the Christ child there, whereas this one features an angel’s appearance which causes the stormy weather to calm down. This short has a lower rating on IMDB that the BURRO short (which is a far more elaborate work), but I prefer this one because of its simplicity and directness; I’ve always had a problem with BURRO in that its central theme (the burro, despite trying to put his best hoof forward, is constantly admonished by its owners as being worthless) doesn’t really mesh well with the encounter with the Christ child at the end, and it’s as if the first 3/4 of the short is just a way to fill the running time. This one is considerably shorter, but it does have its problems. One is that the grouchy shepherd’s change of heart feels a little bizarrely forced, and despite the fact that there is concern the child may be freezing in his flimsy clothes, the best they can do is give him a lamb to lay down beside them instead of giving him more clothes. But then, there would be no reason to give the lamb the center of attention it gets here.

Luxo Jr. (1986)

Luxo Jr. (1986)
Article 5919 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 1-5-2021
Directed by John Lasseter
No cast
Country: USA
What it is: A pioneer short

A Luxo lamp and its son play with a ball together.

For those who wonder where Pixar got its hopping lamp logo, the answer is here in the second short produced by the company. The plot itself is pretty bare bones, but it’s only a two-minute short, so what do you expect? Nevertheless, it’s enjoyable to see the animators anthropomorphize these two lamps; with the inspired use of movement and posture, we can sense the feelings and thoughts of these two lamps and they engage in their exploration of the world around them. To some extent, this pioneering effort from the company that changed the style of animated features reminds me of the early silents and their explorations of the world of special effects.

Lucky Dog (1956)

Lucky Dog (1956)
Article 5918 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 1-4-2021
Directed by Connie Rasinski
Voice cast unknown
Country: USA
What it is: Terrytoon

A neglected husband is being tormented by his wife’s spoiled dog. Then the devilish side of his personality gives him an idea‚Ķ

Sometimes you just don’t know when you’re going to encounter fantastic content until it appears. This cartoon sets up a simple situation that seems rather predictable and staid, but it takes an unexpected turn when the husband is visited by one of those little devils that pop up occasionally (usually in conjunction with one of those little angels, but the latter makes no appearance here) and is talked into using his boy’s chemistry set to mix a concoction to turn himself into a dog and live the easy life himself. The rest of the cartoon is a struggle between the transformed man and various dogs for possession of a bone, and it ends with the usual “lesson learned” finish. Though I do find the mid-cartoon story shift interesting (actually, lots of Terrytoon cartoons do this sort of thing), but beyond that, there’s very little special about this one.

The Lost Dream (1949)

The Lost Dream (1949)
Article 5916 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 1-1-2021
Directed by Bill Tytla and George Germanetti
Featuring the voices of Jackson Beck, Mae Questel, Amanda Randolph
Country: USA
What it is: Little Audrey cartoon

When one of her dreams misses the boat back to Dreamland, Little Audrey decides to escort the dream back to its home. Her reward is a tour of Dreamland, but she can’t keep away from the big black door that leads to nightmares.

Little Audrey was Famous Studios’ replacement for Little Lulu; since she was a character created at the studio, they didn’t have to pay for the rights to the character. This one is mostly in the area of whimsicality rather than comedy. It’s okay, but I wish she’d have opened the black door of nightmares earlier in the cartoon so it would have more time for the scary stuff; as it is, it’s almost over by the time we reach that point. This one is passable, but it’s not one of the better cartoons from the series.

A Lively Quarter-Day (1906)

A Lively Quarter-Day (1906)
Article 5914 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 12-30-2020
Directed by J.H. Martin
Cast unknown
Country: UK
What it is: Half comedy, half special-effects

An attempt to clean and furnish a room leaves the place in a shambles.

The first half of this silent short has no fantastic content; it’s just a slapstick series of destructive accidents. It’s only in the second half where the fantastic content manifests itself; the man moving into the room is a magician, and he uses his arts to magically fix everything in the room through the magic of running the film backwards. It’s a bit like some of Melies’s shorts where a magician/devil furnishes a room, but it has a bit more in the way of story. The most striking detail to me is that when we reach the point where they start using the backwards footage, it isn’t just a reverse of the sequences where the destruction first occurred, so they must have shot two destruction sequences that resulted into roughly the same mess.

The Little Match Girl (1954)

The Little Match Girl (1954)
Article 5913 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 12-29-2020
Director unknown
Featuring the voice of John Nesbitt
Country: USA
What it is: A non-merry Christmas

A starving, freezing little girl sees visions in the matches she has failed to sell on the street.

Here we have another version of the single most depressing Christmas story of them all; I suspect Hans Christian Andersen wasn’t in a very happy state of mind when he conjured this one up. The credits above only apply to the Castle Films release of the short; I have strong reason to suspect that this is actually either a silent or foreign movie with the soundtrack removed and narration added. It’s probably a 1952 French version called LE JEUNE FILLE AUX ALLUMETTES; I see the cast lists a ballerina in the credits, which would match up with the dance sequence. I suppose I can’t blame all of these versions for trying to find some way to make this Christmas sourball of a story joyous; how else would you handle it? For those who like a good Christmas cry with their Christmas cheer.

Little Johnny Jet (1953)

Little Johnny Jet (1953)
Article 5912 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 12-29-2020
Directed by Tex Avery
Featuring the voices of June Foray and Daws Butler
Country: USA
What it is: Tex Avery cartoon

A B-29 can’t find employment because all the airports are hiring only jets. He discovers he’s going to be a father, but junior turns out to be a jet. Can the father learn to accept the son?

The presence of anthropomorphic animals alone is no longer sufficient criteria for me to review a cartoon, but anthropomorphic airplanes are a slightly different matter, especially when the gags are as outrageous as they are here. This one is pretty good and Avery milks as much humor as he can out of the premise. My favorite touch is the existence of a mechanical stork to deliver airplane babies. This is another memorable cartoon from the cartooniest of the animators.